Some Facts about Bhutan
Druk Yul, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, which emerged from the self-imposed isolation only in recent years, is embedded in the great Himalayas. Bhutan offers visitors a varied journey past lush meadows, towering peaks, hidden monasteries and pristine forests. Bhutan has also many different and exotic animal species. The life of the Bhutanese gives you an unique opportunity to get an insight into the Buddhist culture and the traditions in an authentic setting.
Through the concept of sustainable tourism which is controlled specifically by the government in Bhutan, you will experience a very special encounter with the country and its people.
On the following pages you find some initial information about Bhutan and its culture:
Climate in Bhutan
The climate in Bhutan is extremely diverse. Southern Bhutan is characterized by a tropical to subtropical climate which is determined by the monsoon. Eastern Bhutan is warmer than western Bhutan.
The climate in the North is rough with monsoon rains in summer and snow in winter. In the valleys of central Bhutan the climate cools a bit, with dry winters and hot summers.
Winter sets in from early December until March, with frost and snowfall common above elevations of 3000 meters.
Spring starts in mid-March and lasts until early June. Temperatures then rise during the day to 29 degrees Celsius and drop at night to 18 degrees.
From mid-April until late June summer sets in, with occasional showers. The heavier summer rain lasts from late June through September.
Autumn, from early October to late November, follows the rainy season. During the first days it rains usually without interruption, then it is characterized by sunny days and some early snowfalls at higher elevations.
The best time to travel to Bhutan is in spring or autumn, the driest time is from November to March, but it can be quite cold.
A Brief History of Bhutan
According to a legend Bhutan was ruled by a Cooch-Behar king around the 7th century B.C. The Tibetan Buddhism was introduced in the 9th century, when turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan.
The country is one of only a few which have been independent throughout their history. Bhutan was never conquered, governed by an outside power or occupied. In the 17th century the country came to be known as Druk Yul, or the Land of the Drukpas. This name sect of Buddhism that has been the dominant religion since that period.
In the same century Bhutan was first unified by Zhabdrung He has arrived from Tibet and defeated three Tibetan invasions. Afterwards he established a comprehensive system of law and governance. After his death the country feel into civil war between the various local rulers. This continued until 1907 when the Tronsga Poenlop Ugyen Wangchuck was able to gain control. With the support of the people he established himself as Bhutan’s first King.
In 2008 Bhutan converted to a democracy in order to better safeguard the rights of ist citizens.
People and Culture of Bhutan
In Dzongkha, the national language of the Kingdom, the country is called Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) and its people are known as Drukpa. The term comes from the state religion, which is called Drukpa Kagyud.
Bhutan might be a small country, yet it holds a strong identity and unity. Buddhism both influence the daily lives of its citizens as well as the government. The traditionally woven dress is worn on al formal occasions. Perhaps most authentic experience: The warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the Bhutanese people.
Economy of Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the world’s smallest and least developed countries. It is based on agriculture and forestry, which provide the main livelihood for more than 60 per cent of the population. On the whole agriculture consists of subsistence farming and animal husbandry.
GNH (Gross National Happiness)
In 1979 King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. GNH is soften explained by its four pillars: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation.
The Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the attempt to define the standard of living in a broadly diversified, humanistic and psychological way and thus to face the conventional gross national income, a given exclusively by cash flow measure a more holistic framework.
The way of life of the Bhutanese people offers the unique opportunity to get to know a Buddhist culture and tradition in an authentic environment. The sustainable tourism concept is controlled by the government, so is the tourism itself. We therefore find a country, which still hasn’t been in touch with any form of mass tourism.
In Bhutan development is about increasing knowledge and personal enlightenment. The deep Buddhist faith can also be found here. One of the „four noble truths“ of Buddhism states that suffering is caused by the three poisons: ignorance, hatred and greed. To overcome this and to avoid, means to find happiness. Against this background, the concept of gross national happiness to express that „development“ more dimensions than only of increased gross national product, the need for a balance between materialism and spirituality.